Amoeblog

Soul Train Creator Don Cornelius Found Dead This Morning

Posted by Billyjam, February 1, 2012 08:59am | Post a Comment
        

As reported a little earlier this morning by the LA Times' website Don Cornelius - the host and creator of the legendary black music TV show Soul Train - was found dead this morning in his Sherman Oaks home; the result of a gunshot wound to the head - an apparent suicide according to LAPD. The recently divorced Cornelius was 75 years of age. Man, that is some really sad news and - even worse - coming on this first day of Black History Month! Through Soul Train's 35 years of national syndication (it stopped production in 2006 but Cornelius had ceased hosting the show in 1993), Cornelius helped shape and define an entire culture through his positive presentation of black music, dance, and fashion. Rest in peace in Don Cornelius!


        

"Hidden In The Open" Photo Essay Captures a Rarely Seen Slice of Gay Black History Spanning 150 Years

Posted by Billyjam, January 31, 2012 08:08am | Post a Comment
"Hidden in the Open: A Photographic Essay of Afro American Male Couples from the Distant Past" is a most
unique slice of gay Black history engagingly told through a recently-presented collection of photos of black male couples over a century and a half.  The collection was carefully complied from the archives of historian Trent Kelly who researched and collected Hidden in the Open's 146 rare vintage photographs of gay Black couples and some that include their (loving) families. One of the photos featured is even included as the lead photo in Job O Brother's Black [gay] History Month Amoeblog recently posted.

These historic photographs, spanning a wide 150 year period in black (and gay) history, are especially significant from a black historical context because, "Historically, the Afro American gay male and couple has largely been defined by everyone but themselves," as historian Kelly says of his rare photo collection. "Afro American gay men are ignored into nonexistence in parts of black culture and are basically second class citizens in gay culture."

These photos also present fashions of the various time periods in black history. In his introduction to Hidden in the Open, Kelly notes how, "the black church, which has historically played a fundamental role in protesting against civil injustices toward its parishioners, has been want to deny its gay members their right to live a life free and open without prejudice. Despite public projections of a 'rainbow' community living together in harmonious co-habitation, openly active and passive prejudices exist in the larger gay community against gay Afro Americans."

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A brief (and by no means complete) history of Black Los Angeles. Happy Black History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 30, 2012 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles' black population is relatively small compared to the city's other major racial and ethnic minorities. The LA metro area is only 8.7% black as compared to 47% Latino (of any race), 28.7% non-Latino white, and 14% Asian/Pacific Islander. However, since its inception, black Angelenos have always played a major role in LA's history and culture. Los Angeles is one of the only major US cities founded largely by people of black African ancestry. When it was still a Spanish colony, Los Angeles began life as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles on 4 September, 1781 (well, sort of). Of the 44 pobladores who ventured over from nearby San Gabriel, a majority of 26 were identified as having African ancestry.

BLACKS IN MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN LOS ANGELES

Pio Pico
Pio Pico ca. 1890

During the period that Los Angeles was part of Mexico (1821-1840), blacks were fairly integrated into society at all levels. Mexico abolished slavery much earlier than the US, in 1820. In 1831, Emanuel Victoria served as California's first black governor. Alta California's last governor, Pío de Jesus Pico, was also of mixed black ancestry. The US won the Mexican-American War and in 1850, California was admitted to the United States. Although one of America's so-called "free states," discriminatory legislation was quickly enacted to restrict and remove the civil rights of blacks, Chinese, and Native Americans. For example, blacks (and other minorities) couldn't testify in court against white people. 

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Guest Amoblogger JR Valrey Presents "The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month"

Posted by Billyjam, January 29, 2012 09:50pm | Post a Comment
Guest Amoeblogger JR Valrey pictured here on the air at KPFA Berkeley

For this special Black History Month Amoeblog we've invited author/journalist/broadcaster/activist JR Valrey (a.k.a. the People's Minister of Information) to be a guest contributor and to write the following insightful piece, accurately titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. The Oakland-based Valrey, who was interviewed & profiled on the Amoeblog last month, is known for his work on KPFA radio, his contributions to the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, and his recently published book Block Reportin'. The book, which will soon be available for sale in Amoeba Hollywood's ever-expanding book section, features interviews with such important black cultural figures as political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, hip-hop emcee/poet/actor Mos Def, former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, comedian/social satirist Paul Mooney, and the late, great, highly influential Gil Scott Heron. In the spring of this year Valrey plans to publish his second book, Unfinished Business: Block Reportin' 2. For more info and insights on JR Valrey, visit the blockreportradio website. Thanks for your contribution to the Amoeblog JR Valrey!

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Black [gay] History Month, 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, January 29, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
black history gay

Ethel Merman’s voice makes my stomach acids sour and the very idea of shopping for clothes gives me a panic attack; despite these and other suspicious facts, I am a member of the LGBT community. For this reason, the issue of equal rights is ever-present in my mind.

There’s been a lot written and said about comparing the history of intolerance between racial minorities and the gay community, most especially in late 2008 when Prop. 8 was passed in the state of California amidst reports that large numbers of black people, urged by their church heads, voted to end the briefly instituted marriage equality of the state.

There were, of course, many exceptions to this and I don’t mean to angle this as a blacks-versus-gays situation – it's far more complicated than anything I'll do justice to here – but it did shine a light on an issue that often ruffles feathers. Knowing my place here on the Amoeblog as “light entertainment,” I will eschew any prolonged essays on the matter (for great, long-winded crap like that you should check out Charles Reece’s blog), but I will say that equal rights for all people is not only a victimless proposition, it’s one that benefits all people. Whether you think it’s appropriate to compare the struggle for gay equality with those of racial minorities, the fact is that everyone should have the same basic, human rights.

It would be one thing if a child was struck with bone marrow cancer every time two lesbians kissed, but kids, that’s just not the way it is and the sooner we let the gays get married, the sooner they can set up homes that will raise the property value of your block.

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